US Urges Turkey to Stop Drilling Near Cyprus

The United States has said that Turkey's most recent dispatch of the drillship Yavuz to conduct drilling operations off the Karpas Peninsula of Cyprus is a "provocative step" and has urged Turkish authorities to halt these operations, Cyprus Mail reported.

"The United States remains deeply concerned by Turkey's repeated attempts to conduct drilling operations in the waters off Cyprus and its most recent dispatch of the drillship Yavuz off the Karpas Peninsula," US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a written statement.

"This provocative step raises tensions in the region," the State Department said late Tuesday. "We continue to believe the island's oil-and-gas reserves, like all of its resources, should be equitably shared between both communities in the context of an overall settlement."

The discover of huge quantities of natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean Sea  gave start to a race for its possible extraction.

Ankara sent the "Fatih" drillship, which entered the exclusive economic zone continental shelf of the Republic of Cypruss in May.

Soon after, a second drilling vessel, "Yavuz", arrived off the island's northeastern coast and started searching for gas and oil.

Brussels called on Monday Turkey's "unnecessary escalation" and urged Ankara to stop drilling because it is illegal and can bring economic sanctions to them.

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